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tv   [untitled]    April 20, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm EDT

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head of contracting authority was moved from the ra to the regional commissioners and that was the change under paul proudy. should i have changed that back? i believe it's something we should have reviewed thoroughly. it will be in place for a couple years. frankly, there were so many other things we were undertaking it wasn't at the top of my list. perhaps it should have been. >> look what ms. proudy did. as acting administrator, he changed the agency so he went back to his old position as pba commissioner in the region with enhanced authority that he himself had made and your regional administrator had diminished authority and you yourself therefore had diminished authority. i have to say, ms. johnson, i think you were snookerred by your own pbs commissioner. >> there's one piece that makes it a little difficult.
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i believe that the way to think about that contracting authority is it came up through the commissioner. it was still coming to me. so i don't know if it was seven to five, but it was a shift and it still devolved up to me in terms of contracting authority. >> mr. chairman? >> but you were doing nothing about it. that's why we continue to come back around on this issue. mr. miller, when you do an investigation and you come back with this preliminary report, what normally happens? >> this was an unusual report. we did the interim report so that we could stop some of the waste in the future. so it's unusual.
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usually when we do an investigation, we will complete the investigation, make a referral to the department of justice, and there's a criminal prosecution or perhaps a civil case. >> so as of may 3rd, you did a preliminary report. a couple of investigations now. but you did a preliminary report so you could stop the abuses right there. >> correct. >> and so after may 3rd, you started having multiple conversations per week with gsa. either through you or through your staff from everybody from mrs. johnson to ms. cox when she was appointed. how did the trips not stop? >> when i say we have multiple contacts and we have contacts throughout my office, my senior staff contacts throughout gsa,
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it's on many issues. on this particular issue because it's an investigation and because of the nature of it, we wouldn't be going autoof our way to tell gsa people about this because it's an investigation. >> but you went out of your way in this case. you gave them a heads up. you let them know there was a problem here. you told them to get a handle on rc's travel. >> i told the regional administrator that in august. and we did the interim report in may. >> you were alerted to the 17-day trip which he was taking his wife on. of the party they were going to have and the places they were going to travel to. >> we contacted ms. brit ta
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about the travel and said do you know about this travel? is it really necessary? and she contacted the regional administrator. >> ms. cox? >> yes. >> did she let you know the trip was going to happen? >> i did not know about the trip from either ms. brit ta or the inspector general or ms. cox. >> has ms. cox been fired? >> i did not fire her. >> has she been put on administrative leave. >> i do not know. i'm not at the agency. >> has she resigned? >> i do not know. >> who was made aware of the investigation, has she been fired? >> she has not. >> put on administrative leave? >> no she has not. >> any reason to believe she was not aware of the may 3rd report? >> i'm still reviewing all of
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the outcomes of the analysis of the inspector general, the outcomes of the hearing and we're still undertaking personnel action. >> you dispute mr. ms. brit ta alerted ms. cox to the trip coming up? >> i was no reason to dispute that. >> is she irreplaceable? >> i haven't been there long enough to know who on the staff is replaceable or irreplaceable. that's part of the review i want to do. understand who we have, what role they play, and how they can continue to serve. >> she testified she took immediate action. april 3rd, mr. peck is fired. april 3rd, steve leads is fired. mr. neily and four others that represent the different regions
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are put on administrative leave on the 3rd. i believe that's the same day you resigned, ms. johnson. this committee gets the information on april 2nd -- or we called a hearing on april 2nd. it wasn't until we called a hearing and prepared subpoenas before any action was taken. a year and a half prior to that was when you had the may 3rd report. what immediate action was taken? >>. >> when we received the final draft of the report from the i.g., we spent some -- we absorbed it. we met with the i.g. further to deepen our understanding. i called ruth cox in to begin disciplinary activities.
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e placed the regional commissioners. i placed the regional commissioners on the four commissioners on leave. >> were you directed to do so? >> no. no. these were my decisions. >> why didn't you make the decision on mrs. cox? what was different with her? >> i admonished on the regional administrators. i then removed the chain of command. ruth cox reported to steve leads. i removed steve leads and i resigned. so i took out the senior people. >> ms. norton? >> mr. chairman, i only have one more question. i do want to welcome the seniors from carr doe sa high school who
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have come into the room. it's rare for visitors to see a hearing in progress. i can't say this has much to do with the district of columbia. but i do what want say for the record that the president took action without hesitation. and the action was not simply to discharge all of the high officers of the agency. the president also brought in dan tank lee knee and i can say from my own personal experience that it was an appointment made for this situation. mr. tanklyny has been the administrator for the district of columbia. he's done the same thing at metro. here's an administrator not only with impeccable management
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skills but also impeccable ethics. but you see what you have laid out for you to do. i have one question about these conferences. we are focusing on tell working and we're having finally some progress in getting tell working. i don't know about teleconferencing. i do want to say this also for the record. as somebody who manages people right now in the congress and managed much r more people in propositions in my life, i value what face to face meetings can do. my own staff is in the same city, but the district office staff and there are two district offices and the congressional office staff don't have face to
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face meetings that often but they have telephone meetings and of course, it's a much smaller staff than you would have in an agency. they have telephone meetings every monday morning. i don't know enough about the value of these face to face conferences, but i would like to ask you mr. tanker lee knee since the conference is the vortex of this problem, what criteria you will use? i know you don't know what you're going to do now in determining whether these face to face conferences serve a legitimate need and how much of the work that's now being done in face to face conferences do you think in light of the
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priority of the federal government and the administration is putting on teleworking could be done with more teleconferencing. >> i have to say that gsa is already a leader in teleconferencing, moving out on ideas such as webinars. that's one of the things we're asking ourselves to be is more like gsa. to use the technology. dhaj ourselves to use the innovations that have come out of gsa over the last several years and use this to overcome the costs associated with some of the travel for conferences and training. we believe there's huge value in high-quality training, interaction between federal employees who are working on the same areas and ideas. when you're dealing with things like the federal acquisition system, you need to have skilled, trained people managing those resources.
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because literally billions of dollars go through those folks. so we want to make sure they have the highest quality training. so our chief administrator office we have given extra power to oversee the training and travel and in fact i issued on april 15th guidelines on conferences and travel that ask those questions first. does this have to have by actually having people come together? can we use federal facilities instead of renting a conference facility to do this kind of training and what's the value we're going to get out of these activities. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> mr. chairman, could i correct a couple dates here. i want to be clear about the record. we put mr. neily on administrative leave.
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i resigned on april 2nd. i just wanted to be sure that's in the record correctly. >> thank you. >> on june of last year, your chief of staff, michael robertson is your chief of staff, correct? >> he was my chief of staff, yes. >> he was the liaison to the white house prior to that. >> before that he was the in policy shop for awhile. >> yes. >> in june of last year, he informed kimmerly harris, white house counsel about this report. did you ever have subsequent meetings with the administration? >> first of all, i learned that yesterday in the testimony, i did not realize he had informed
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anyone at the white house. we held meetings with the white house after we received the draft report. >> after may 3rd? >> terms of terminology, we termed the may 3rd report, the interim report. and our practice when we have a final report, we give the agency 30 days to respond. at the end of 30 days, we'll publish everything. we technically call that a draft. that draft report was delivered on february 17th with a 30-day
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notice, which administrator johnson asked us to extend by another 30 days, which we did. >> you had no discussions with the white house last year? >> no, day no the. >> anybody in the administration above you? i'm just trying to figure out what the pattern is. >> i believe someone spoke this them in june.
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>> march 17th you received the dra draft. >> february 17th. >> february 17th you received the draft. what we have up here is the may 3rd preliminary. >> interim report. >> interim report. i want to make sure i use the right terminology. nine months passes by. you continued your report. you finalized your investigation. you put that in a nice package. you give that over to ms. johnson on february 17th. that's the draft? >> correct. >> your immediate action was what? >> we reviewed the report. he gives us the draft report so that we can review it and respond to him. then he will publish the final report with our response. we immediately realized we agreed with all the recommendations in the report. i then contacted our chief mum resources officer and our general counsel so that i could begin to frame up the disciplinary actions that we
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needed to take. we met more with the i.g. we put jeff neely on administrative leave. >> you put jeff neely on administrative leave march 19th? >> yes. >> you received the draft report on february 17th. you said you took immediate action. >> yes. i received the report. i consulted with our hr staff, with our general counsel. >> before you went back to mr. miller and requested an additional 30 days, did you find some things in the report that you thought were false? >> that were false? no. i had no reason to think it was false. >> anything misleading? >> i accepted the entire report. >> so you didn't have any concerns about the report itself when you received it on february 17th.
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you asked for an additional 30 days. why did you ask for an additional 30 days if you didn't have a problem with the report. >> the amount of material the i.g. had is underlying evidence, which he had gathered over 15 months, was fairly substantial. our human resource and general counsel needed to dig into some of that to frame up the letters we needed to be sending in order to put people on the various disciplinary actions we were beginning to take. it was a phenomenal amount of material. >> did you have any reason to believe he didn't go on these trips? all the trips that were detailed in this report were factual wp. >> yes. i accepted the report. >> so if you accepted the report
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and you didn't put mr. neily on administrative leave until march 19th, why would you let him go on a 17-day trip that you have e-mails on that show that it's a party for he and his wife? that happened in february. then in march another trip to hawaii and another trip to napa. i don't agree with you on why it it took so long it put him on administrative leave. it's a disjustice to the taxpayer. but how did it go on for two more months after you had the final report? the decision should have been made easily may 3rd of last year. you agreed with the report. then you took immediate action. yet mr. neily still went on a 17-day trip which he took his wife on, which they had a party
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and a birthday present. you have the e-mails to that. and then he went on another trip to hawaii for four days and another trip to the napa where the entire executive team went and spent over $40,000 without even the travel expenses on there. you see why i have a hard time understanding how you took immediate action? >> congressman, upon receiving the report, i recognized although i had tasked senior leaders with various responsibilities and oversight, clearly management controls hn breached. i fired the two people most immediately in the chain of command and i resigned. >> on february 17th you received the report and had no problems with the report. you knew it was factual. did you meet with the white house then? >> not immediately. >> have you ever met with the president over this topic? >> no. >> any other administrative -- anybody else within the
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administration over the last 45 days? >> we briefed people in the white house, yes. >> at what point? >> i can dig out my calendar to help me remember. it was in the week of, i believe, and i don't have access to my schedule anymore, so this is as well as i can recollect, the week of march 18th and the week of march 25th. they were information meetings. e we needed them to know what we were doing. >> and who did you meet with? >> i met with people in the general counsel, people in the office of management and budget, i met with people in the communications staff. these were people in the meetings i held in the general counsel's office. i also met in the chiefs of
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staff office. oh and presidential personnel since we were taking action on a political appointees. >> who within general counsel did you meet with? >> i met with -- hang on a second. to the best of my memory, we met with -- we met with the general counsel. the white house counsel kathy rem ler. there might have been one or two more staff there, but i don't remember and i don't know their names. >> how about within budget? >> at one of the meetings, jeff
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sooits came through. he's the head of office of management and budget. and also met with danny we areful, da na hide, and those meetings were about policy. we wanted to talk with them about a possible conference policy, travel policy because they are clearly interested in how we can move forward from this kind of event. >> who did you meet with in communications? >> i was in a meeting in the white house counsels office. there were communications people there, jennifer palm area, i believe were there, and there might have been others, but i don't know their names.
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>> chiefs of staffs office? >> in the meetings, there was representation from the chiefs of staff office, i believe mark childress is in the office. ultimately, i met with jeff lieu as well. >> and in personnel? >> nancy hogan. >> just the two of you? >> no. she was in one of the other meetings. >> so you had meetings the week of march 18th. you made the decision to put mr. neilly on administrative leave on the 19th. >> to the best of my recollecti
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recollection, that's the right date, yes. >> you went back to the white house or the administrate on march 25th. why did it take up until april 3rd or april 2nd for -- to fire mr. peck, to fire mr. leads, and put all the other administrators on leave? >> there are -- >> i'm trying to find out what you found out between those -- >> i was working particularly with our hr senior executive and a person from the senior executive from the general counsels office to understand what were the -- what were the -- what was the particular evidence that the i.g. had uncovered and how we could fit that into letters of admonishment and what kind of disciplinary actions they fit
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against. this required some understanding because it needed to be documented and we needed to create documents in order to execute those activities. >> you had all those documents. >> no, we had to write letters. we had to create -- and there are two officials involved in a dismissal. so you need to get the person in and get them to go through the evidence and have them understand it and so on. it's not something you get done quickly. there's a process. there's a due process here that we needed to follow. >> each of those different meetings, i assume you met with white house general counsel to let them know you were going to be firing people and putting people on administrative leave. so you were seeking counsel from them? >> no.
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i was informing them. and the meetings were about helping them understand what mrs. norton is so concerned about, helping them understand the structure, who the people were in the reports, and what was going on. they don't know the internal workings of gsa so i needed to explain, who and where and how this all sorted out and i also needed to explain to them the various disciplinary options we had and that we were working through them, yes. >> and budget, the reason to meet with them? >> i met with them predominantly to talk about policy. they were eager so understand what we might suggest around the kinds of policies they could create so this wouldn't happen again. >> communications? >> he attended the meeting in the general counsels office. it was largely a meeting with
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the general counsel and she was there in the room. >> dan fiefr was not in those meetings? >> who? >> dan fiefr? >> not that i'm aware of. >> jack lou? >> i met with jack lou in a separate meeting. i met with him in his office with nancy hogan of presidential personnel. >> that was the week of march 18th. >> i think that was the next week. >> so the purpose of all of these various meetings with these individuals within the administration was to inform them what had had come out of the i.g.'s report. did you give them a copy of the report? >> i did not.
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i believe i did not. >> i had no contact with the white house about this report. >> however, right. i did not either. >> mr. tanker leeny, when did you get a copy? >> i got a copy on monday, april 2nd. >> so the purpose was to let them know the decisions that you were about to make over the next couple weeks. >> including my resignation. >> when did you let them know you were planning on resigning? >> i had that meeting with jack lou the friday before, so it must have been march 30th. in which we discussed that i was planning on resigning and that i was planning on removing the other two political
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